What Dangers Does Summer Bring for Those in Recovery?
Summer brings its own challenges for those in substance abuse and addiction recovery. More people get together outdoors and have special events like weddings and birthdays. With these activities, there’s more temptation to enjoy a few drinks and enjoy the summertime sun. After all, no one expects every person in recovery to sit in the house all summer long.
But it’s important to remember that social pressures are one of the most common reasons for relapse. Just because your friends are getting together at the bar doesn’t mean that you have to join them. With this in mind, if you know your triggers and always have backup plans, you can avoid social situations that put you in a tricky position.
Know Your Triggers
During your treatment program, you will have learned about your personal triggers. These are weak points that make you vulnerable to temptation and even relapse. So when it comes time to participate in summer festivities, you should be aware of the things that might pull you down.
For example, if you’re still early in your recovery journey and avoiding drinking is tough for you, don’t go to parties where alcohol is readily available. This may mean steering clear of the people, places, and things that could tempt you. If you prioritize your mental health and seek the support of loved ones, you’ll feel more comfortable honoring your boundaries.
Have a Plan and Backup Plans
In addition to knowing your triggers, it’s essential have backup plans for summertime fun. When you figure out how to enjoy summer activities while also staying consistent with the terms of your sobriety, you will feel so relieved. To help you make a plan and stick with it, check out the following 7 tips on having (and enjoying!) a sober summer:
Prioritizing Sober Friends and Supportive Resources
When you surround yourself with supportive people and resources, you’ll find that the summer season is a lot more tolerable. People who understand you and your boundaries will be pillars of strength for you at summer events and parties—this is the key to accountability.
Not only will this help you not slip up, it gives you an opportunity to spend time with like-minded individuals and create a support network for future events. This support net will keep you from feeling out of the loop and weird about being the only person not drinking at the party. Family dynamics, too, are a key part of this process.
In a recent study in the journal of Evaluation and Program Planning, for instance, positive family interactions significantly decreased the risk of relapse for women coming out of residential treatment. On the flip side, negative family interactions such as fights or constant conflict increased the risks.
Organize Your Own Transportation
Part of the recovery journey is taking responsibility for every aspect of your life. This includes being on top of how you’re getting to and from the party and not depending on someone else’s organization.
By handling your own transportation ahead of time, you’ll be able to leave an event or party when it’s right for you. That way, you don’t have to worry about interrupting the enjoyment of others or feeling guilty about asking for a ride.
Prepare Your Story
It’s true that you don’t have to explain why you’re not drinking to every single person who asks. The people closest to you will understand why you are not partaking. But casual friends, acquaintances, and strangers might ask you why you’re not joining in the festivities with a drink or two.
To avoid an awkward moment trying to gather your thoughts, you should have a ready-to-go reply that you can share with confidence and ease. Of course, you don’t have to talk about your recovery journey or addiction treatment unless you feel comfortable with the person. A simple but clear response is more than satisfactory.
Keep Your Sponsors and Mentors in the Loop
Make sure to let your mentors and sponsors know about your intentions to enjoy specific summer events. This way, they can prepare themselves to support you. They might give you a couple of check-in calls before the event, or want to schedule a meet-up a few days after the party.
Don’t shy away from these accountability check-ins. A simple phone call or text could be all you need to stay honest and steer clear of tempting circumstances.
Stay Positive and Engaged
While it may seem like a small thing, try to avoid standing alone at parties and events. It’s a much safer idea to keep yourself busy—visit with people and make the rounds instead of standing against the wall. This will keep you from watching everyone else enjoying the festivities with a drink in their hand.
Keep a Non-Alcoholic Drink in Your Hand
Speaking of holding drinks, while everyone is standing around with a drink in their hand, it will probably feel awkward to not be holding a beverage as well. Grab a coke, iced tea, or other non-alcoholic refreshment to sip on while you’re catching up with friends. This social element will also help you avoid unwanted questions like, “can I get you a drink?” Save yourself the trouble while staying refreshed in the summer sun.
Set a Time Limit for Yourself
Along with organizing your own transportation, it’s totally up to you to decide how long you want to stay at a party where alcohol drinking will only increase as time goes on. By setting a time limit for yourself, you can avoid having to make a decision in the moment when you’re at a vulnerable point.
The Bottom Line
If you want to enjoy a sober summer party, don’t forget that you can always plan your own party! That way, you set your own rules. Sober activities like paddle-boarding or kayaking, or hiking or a game of morning softball can be great ways to enjoy the summer weather without alcohol or other substance temptations.
For more support or getting back on track before the summer months, get in touch with the team at Pinnacle Recovery for treatment options and therapy programs.